NY 2007/2008

First post in a long time, but on the same token it's been a long time since I've had any meaningful time to spend on the water and write about it. I've returned recently from 9 days on the salmon river, my set-in-stone annual pilgrimage that comes after the fall semester. The fishing was more than good. This post will be more pictures than words, which is the best kind of post anyway.

Water conditions started off higher than average at 1150
cfs, and I fished a few days at 750. The last few days of the trip the water was lowered to the fabled 500cfs which many tout as the best flow for fishing the salmon river. Not too high, not too low. -and I'll agree with that. It's been said before, and I'll say it again, water flow is the most important factor in steelheading. Other fish are probably more affected by changes in water temperature (and yes, steelhead are) but water flow will dramatically effect where the fish lie, and whether or not new fish will enter the system.

Weather as well fluctuated, when I first arrived the temps were seasonal, highs in the 30's, and lows in the 20's. Then we were hit by an arctic cold blast that dropped temps down to single digit highs, and brought on a whole new kind of cold fishing. This was probably the average temperatures that I have to deal with in Minneapolis, but when you mix those temps with cold and flowing water, the combination generally results in cold feet that tend to swing the thoughts towards death, judgement, hell, and the like.
I usually don't to much "thinking" while I'm fishing (others would say during any other activity as well), but the freezing cold certainly does affect your abililty to simply concentrate on fishing (which, I'll admit, often requires little thought).

After the cold snap temperatures finally rose, so much so that I was fishing in 60 degree weather my last 2 days (and in 500
cfs too!). but these temperatures lead to another consequence when the Tug Hill plateau begins to melt: runoff and rising water.

My trip started with a perfect storm of good
steelheading: prior high water dropping = good fishing. rising water shuts them down, at least until they get used to it. and snowmelt completely shuts them off. I have no idea why a steelhead would shut off when the river is 33 degrees just like the meltwater, but it does, and I've seen it time and time again. It's just one of those weird "rules" that has yet to let me down. Towards the end of the trip the river rose, got colder (albeit ever so slightly), and the fish shut down. No better time to leave than when the river is high and the fish are off. Of course, for those lucky enough to have aces to this great fishery, the high water merely resets the chips, and when things stabalize, the madness begins all over again.
Sitting here and uploading the better pictures of the trip, I'm struck with the realization that trying to convey on a blog what one experiences on the water will always fall short. Right now I'm back in Minneapolis, making a blog post and refusing to pay attention in class. Fisherman probably don't make the best students, and if school were fishing, I'd have more letters after my name than words in a Russian novel. So the battle continues between future career and the immutable passion for the water. I suppose there are men with worse challenges in their lives.

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